What makes a good ecommerce site? An ecommerce platform can mean the difference between flourishing or faltering online sales. Customers expect a fully-featured web store that delivers an exemplary shopping experience – they want to know exactly what they’re buying, and from whom.
But how do you know if your ecommerce platform will help fuel greater sales? What are the best ecommerce features that will take customers from browsing to final checkout?
Here is a list of ecommerce website requirements that will set your online sales channel up for success.
Responsive Web Design
Mobile devices are an important part of everyday life. According to a report by Adobe, 88% of consumers say they multi-screen, and use an average of 2.42 devices at the same time. People want to be able to browse the internet, and access the information they need, from their favorite devices without any headaches or second-guessing. Responsive web design automatically adapts a web store to the mobile device that’s being used without distorting the view.
Attractive, Easy-to-Navigate Web Store Design
Attraction equals persuasion. A good-looking online store supports customers throughout each step of the buying journey: from first enticing a shopper to check it out, to inspiring them to explore the store and its products, to finally charming them into purchasing.
According to NN Group, you have 10 seconds to leave an impression on an online visitor and tell them what they’ll get out of your website and company. If you can’t capture their attention within that time span, then more often than not, they’ll leave and won’t return.
Making your online store layout intuitive for the visitor is a valuable way to draw their attention to the right places. For instance, organizing your products into logical categories and sub-categories, and making sure those categories are highly visible, will help shoppers quickly find the products that interest them most.
Displaying multiple large, high-quality product images on the home page and individual product pages arouse curiosity and temptation. Incorporating images of the product both on its own and in use helps customers to better visualize using the product themselves. Showing related products is also helpful in persuading shoppers to purchase. If they’re looking at a product they like, then chances are they’re going to be amenable to looking at more.
Posting clear calls to action throughout your web store is also critical. Don’t make shoppers guess at what they should do – tell them what to do. Have a loyalty program that offers great deals once a customer signs up? Have a new sale that’s going to end soon? Offering an awesome discount? Tell the customer to click here to sign up for the loyalty program; to click here to see the products for sale; to use this code for this discount.
For an example of how important web design is, take a look at the two web stores below. REI offers a clean, aesthetically pleasing design, with high-quality images – and most importantly, you know immediately what the company offers. Ling’s Cars, however, is cluttered, outdated, and confusing, with cartoonish images that don’t even pertain to the company. REI’s categories are well-defined and prominently, as well as intuitively, displayed – they are where an online visitor would expect them to be. Calls to action are also self-explanatory. With Ling’s Cars you have to hunt to find the information you need. And, bottom line, would you feel safe entering your contact and payment information into that site?
Speedy Page Loading
Online shoppers want convenience – and they won’t stick around if a page takes forever to load. The online shopping experience should be seamless and easy. If load time is too long or functionality is clunky, shoppers will be gone with a quick click of the mouse. According to Adobe, 44% of people will switch devices if content takes too long to load; 39% will stop engaging altogether.
Online shopping can be a leap of faith – a shopper can’t physically pick up and feel merchandise before they buy, like they would in a brick and mortar store. But shoppers still want to familiarize themselves with what you have to offer.
According to a BigCommerce study, online shoppers want products to be brought to life with images (78%) and product reviews (69%). Include informative features on product pages such as high-res photos; in-depth product descriptions; zoom-in and 360-degree rotation capabilities; the ability to view the product in different colors and product videos. By providing as much product detail and information as possible, you decrease the chance of returned items and increase the likelihood of satisfied customers.
Search and Filter
Some customers know precisely what they’re looking for – which is why it’s important to provide them with a focused shopping approach with searching and filtering functionality. A search bar or box helps customers instantly locate what they need. According to an Econsultancy article, up to 30% of visitors to an ecommerce site will use the site search box.
Other features such as search word auto-fill and searching by the most used words support efficient searching. The ability to filter products by different attributes also helps to quickly narrow down products to meet a customer’s desired criteria.
A product video is an extremely valuable communication tool that helps seal the deal – an Impact Branding & Design article states that video helps persuade 73% of people to buy a product or service. Through a video, customers can see exactly how a product looks and how it’s used. Videos can also provide helpful tips, tricks, and how-to advice – giving customers an insider’s view into how best to use the product to their advantage.
Shoppers want to hear from real people about their product experiences to see if the product fits their desires and expectations. According to Kissmetrics, 55% of shoppers say that online reviews influence their buying decision. Build trust with your shoppers by posting customer product reviews on your site. And while positive reviews are helpful, don’t be afraid to post negative reviews, too – your transparency creates credibility on the honesty of your brand.
Shoppers are always on the hunt for a sweet deal. According to an eMarketer report, when asked about shopping habits and preferences for saving, 23% of U.S. internet users say they would do pretty much anything to receive significant saving.
Posting new promotions on widgets and web banners across your site help customers see (and share) the latest special offers. Other promotional features, such as a countdown clock signaling when a special offer begins or ends and bundled promotions, are also helpful in spurring customers to act now. The ability to create unlimited promotions by order, category, shipping method, item, etc. with an ecommerce platform helps you effectively target shoppers along each step of the customer journey.
Powerful Shopping Cart
A shopping cart isn’t just a place for customers to store items pending checkout – it’s another important touchpoint that can deliver additional conversion opportunities. Cross selling at checkout helps target customers more precisely with products they are likely to be interested in based on the items already in their cart – which can in turn increase the purchase total.
Total visibility into the products awaiting purchase and their costs (including shipping and sales tax) keeps customers aware, and decreases the likelihood of abandonment. Baymard states that on average approximately 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned.
Don’t let a complicated or lengthy checkout process make customers abandon their shopping cart at the last minute. Eliminate friction with an easy checkout that allows customers to quickly fill out only the most necessary information. Fields that the customers can fill out by choice on the form (such as signing up for a newsletter); pre-filling forms; a progress bar for multiple steps/pages; and the ability to store credit card information for repeat shoppers helps to minimize frustration.
Visible Contact Info
The quicker you answer a customer’s question, the quicker they move forward with the purchase process. Prominently displaying your contact info on your store helps customers know where to turn for a quick resolution to their queries. KoMarketing’s report states that 44% of website visitors will leave a company’s website if there’s no contact information or phone number. Chat functionality is also an effective tool, as customers don’t need to switch to a new device or otherwise interrupt their browsing experience. And speaking to a live person can facilitate sales conversions. According to a Bold Software study, 63% of respondents who chatted said they were more likely to return to the site, and 62% reported being more likely to purchase from that site again. A further 38% of respondents said they had made their purchase due to the chat session itself.
Your customers are your best brand champions. According to a study by BigCommerce, nearly a quarter of online shoppers (23%) are influenced by social media recommendations. Allow them to promote your company and publicize your products on their social media channels by including social share buttons on your pages. Make sure the links to your company’s social media accounts are also visible so that people can connect their social networks with yours.
Eliminate customer fears with proof that their information is safe and secure. Statista states that 17% of customers abandon online shopping carts due to concerns about payment security. Posting security and certification symbols from reputable third-party security companies is powerful reassurance for weary shoppers.
Sometimes an item we buy just isn’t quite what we wanted. Making returns an easy process helps clear a final obstacle toward completing a purchase – people know they can return a product if it doesn’t work for them, so there’s no need to stress out about buying.
Free return shipping also helps ease customer concerns. According to an Econsultancy article, 27% of consumers would purchase an item that costs more than $1,000 if offered free returns; only 10% would, otherwise.
Enabling customers to generate and print return shipping labels from your store, as well as allowing them to track the status of their returned item, helps put the customer in charge of their purchase from beginning to end.
Shoppers want to see great products, and consume great content, at their convenience. Delivering a seamless shopping experience that informs and entertains will delight customers, causing them to not only buy but to make repeat purchases time and again (and maybe even encourage their friends to check your store out, too!). Understanding the ecommerce website requirements that help promote visits and conversions is an important part of meeting this goal.
Have more questions on best practices for optimizing your online sales channel and the best ecommerce features to include on your site? Contact us to start a conversation with our team today.